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Behind the wheel: Driving excitement, the new G6

Pontiac's innovative performance sedan is easy on eyes, fully equiped

By Drew Dorian / Dimensions Editor
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2004

Photo by Alexis Fortner​

Pontiac has bought back its performance
division starting with a sporty, zippy coupe
disguised as a four door sedan, complete with
retractable moon roof and ergonomic seats.​


"Doing something truly new and innovative means cutting away the safety net of "That's how it's always been done,"' says a Pontiac informational brochure, and with that mindset, General Motors' performance division is back "Driving Excitement" with the introduction of the new Pontiac G6.

The rest of Pontiac's lineup has lacked said "Excitement" in recent years and the company is attempting to appeal to a new and younger market with this new sport sedan. Pontiac also recently brought the GTO nameplate back to its lineup with a new high performance sport coupe based on the Holden Monaro, manufactured by GM's Australian subsidiary.

But the GTO, which is powered by a 5.7 Liter LS1 V-8 borrowed from the Corvette, costs more than double that of a fully-loaded G6 sedan.

The G6 is something the GTO isn't. It's practical and exciting.

At first glance, the G6 appears to be a coupe, but surprise, there are two more doors out back. The car is very wedge shaped and its windows are raked back with a high beltline to enhance the sedan's coupe-like look and stance.

Prestige Pontiac in Ypsilanti graciously provided us with an Electric Blue, GT model that came very well equipped with a four-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode, an eight-speaker Monsoon CD stereo, black leather seating surfaces, 17-inch chrome wheels, and probably the coolest feature, the panoramic moon roof which covers the entire length of the cars roof.

Slip into the driver's seat and discover a comfortable and ergonomic cockpit. Our tester came equipped with telescoping steering wheel and pedals, power adjustable seats and power mirrors. The leather seats provided plenty of support and feel relatively luxurious at the same time.

All of the knobs, levers and switches feel of the highest quality, something GM vehicles have lacked for years. The General didn't skimp when it came to interior appointments, proper switchgear and sound dampening. The interior of the car is as quiet as a mouse, that is, until you turn up the rockin' sound system.

The eight-speaker system is produced by Monsoon, who designs most of GM's high-end stereos and this one is no exception. Controls for the stereo are well laid out and intuitive and have duplicate controls on the steering wheel which allows the driver to toggle back and forth between FM stereo, AM and CD modes, turn up the volume, and change the station.

Having a great stereo is nice, but the real entertainment comes when you get behind the wheel and drive. The G6's taut suspension tuning, aggressive tires and responsive steering and acceleration make for an exciting drive indeed. Pontiac engineers did a great job with this car's suspension.

The ride is firm, but not harsh over road imperfections. Steering is quick but controlled and braking is right on-par for other sports sedans of this size. Driver sightlines are partially obscured by blind spots caused by the rakish styling and high beltline, but are easy to get used to.

The transmission is smooth as silk, never translating harsh downshifts to the cockpit. The manual shift mode also works quite well in comparison to other transmissions with the same feature. There is a little bit of hesitation, however slim, when selecting the next gear. The feature is easy to use; just slide the shift lever all the way back, and then into a special gate. Once it is in the manual mode, just tap the lever forward for an up shift and backward for downshift.

Let's talk about that panoramic sunroof, shall we. This thing is freakin' huge. The whole thing is made up of four different panels that move back and forth. When opened, the rearmost three panels stack on top of each other on the top of the car creating a huge open hole. The first panel, tilts upward to create a wind blocker of sorts. The roof is easy to operate, just twist a rotary knob on the ceiling to one of five settings to open it a little or all the way.

For just over $23,000, you can find yourself behind the wheel of a base model G6, but for a ride like our GT tester, be prepared to fork over more than $26,000.

The G6 is a competent performer in a sea of smallish sports sedans and deserves consideration if you're shopping for a compact sedan. The quality, style, features and performance of the G6 sedan is what makes it a true gem.

Pontiac seems to be making great strides to rejuvenate their performance oriented lineup with the G6 and GTO. They are also planning on introducing a G6 coupe and hardtop convertible next year, which will further help their cause.

"Driving Excitement" isn't just about straight-line acceleration. It's about handling and style too. Pontiac has finally stopped using that horrid plastic body cladding and has started to write a new page in their design book. It helps, because I've driven excitement and it's in the new G6.
 

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05GTO said:
...But the GTO, which is powered by a 5.7 Liter LS1 V-8 borrowed from the Corvette, costs more than double that of a fully-loaded G6 sedan.

The G6 is something the GTO isn't. It's practical and exciting.
Huh?? Pardon me, but a fully-loaded G6 is about the SAME price as what you'll pay for a GTO right now. And the GTO not exciting?? I drove a G6 GT & it IS a very nice car in every way, but it's not nearly as exciting as driving my m6 GTO! The rest of this article is pretty accurately describes my experience with the car. :agree
 
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